When celebrating Christmas was illegal in Scotland

It was frowned upon for its frivolity and banished for its extravagance.

Wind the clock back just over 50 years and Christmas was barely celebrated in Scotland as religious piety held firm over society.

From the time Scotland split from the Catholic church in 1560 until 1958, when December 25 was declared a public holiday, Christmas was not freely observed.

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Any activity that was judged to be extravagant, or celebrated superstitions, was deemed un-Christian and indeed illegal.

From the time Scotland split from the Catholic church in 1560 until 1958, when December 25 was declared a public holiday, Christmas was not freely observed. Picture: British Library/WikiCommons

Indeed, there are even records of some people being arrested over unlawful celebrations.

In 1583 ,the Glasgow Kirk at St Mungo’s Cathedral, now known as Glasgow Cathedral, ordered the excommunication of those who celebrated Yule, whilst elsewhere in Scotland, even singing a Christmas carol was considered a serious crime, according to Historic Environment Scotland.

After years of controversy, a 1640 Act of Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of Yule illegal.

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As Christmas remained out in the cold, the celebration of New Year became an increasingly important one for Scots.

Although business continued as usual for many on December 25 until the late 1950,, there were signs as late as the late 1800s that Scots - for centuries the only people in Christendom not to celebrate Christmas - were starting to warm to the festivities.

On December 27, 1883, newspapers reported that "the popularity of Christmas Day, both as a public holiday and a Church festival, is extending very rapidly".

It added: "Midnight masses and special services were celebrated in the various places of worship and the "goodwill" which characterises the season took the form in many places of donations and treats to tho children, the aged, and the poor."

In Glasgow, a dinner for 2,000 poor people of the city was given in City Hall and presided over by the Lord Provost.

"The custom of sending Christmas boxes and greetings has everywhere severely taxed tho energy and efficiency of the Post-office," the report added.

Banks, markets and public buildings were largely closed, but it wasn't until 1958 that a public holiday was declared.

Scots waited another 16 years to get a two-day festive break, with Boxing Day not becoming a public holiday until 1974.